In the interest of Women’s History Month, we’re tackling an issue that is very near and dear to our hearts: female job applicants. This is an incredibly relevant topic as more and more companies are (finally) starting to understand the need for a move toward diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Critical initiatives like this always start with small shifts. You may be surprised at how simply changing the way you write your job postings can greatly affect how many female applicants you receive, and therefore how much closer you are to meeting your diversity goals.
We’re going to break it down to the top three issues that can get in the way of women applying for your roles and how you can easily avoid these pitfalls.
1. The issue: women don’t apply to jobs unless they feel they meet 100% of the qualifications.
According to a 2014 study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, when asked why they did not apply for a job, almost 22% of women said “I didn’t think they would hire me since I didn’t meet the qualifications and I didn’t want to put myself out there if I was likely to fail” compared to only 13% of men. Another answer along the same lines, “I was following the guidelines about who should apply” was selected by 15% of women, compared to only 9% of men.
The solution: only list the bare minimum qualifications the candidate absolutely must have in order for you to extend an offer and forget about the “nice-to-haves.” This is a beneficial practice regardless, as it will help keep your job postings short and simple while not scaring off any candidates (especially women) that don’t meet them.
2. The issue: subliminal masculine messaging turns women off.
Call it “women’s intuition”, but we can easily read between the lines and pick up on subtleties. Something as small as how you describe your company in the “About Us” section of your job postings can make a female candidate hesitant to apply for a role at a company with a “bro” culture.
The solution: aside from the obvious (i.e. referring to the ideal candidate as a “he”), avoid using innocuous gender specific terms, like “chairman.” Additionally, try not to use assertive language that can convey a masculine tone, like “manager” (try replacing with “develop”) or “build” (try replacing with “create”). Other words to stay away from are: “competitive”, “stakeholder”, and “leader.” These adjustments may seem arbitrary, but the data shows they can make a significant increase in the number of female applicants you receive. If you’re ever unsure, there’s a free tool that will check your job postings for you.
3. The issue: women like to know what they are getting into and may be hesitant to apply if they don’t feel they have all the information.
The solution: Give potential candidates extra information by listing how many applicants have already applied to the job. A study by Tuft’s University found that candidates (especially women) are up to 3.6% more likely to apply if they have visibility to that data.
We know this can be a sticky topic, but if you know your job postings need improvement, but you’re not sure where to start or how to tackle moving towards equity and inclusion, please consider reaching out to us. One of the services we offer is reviewing and rewriting job postings and we’d love to help you on this. Let’s get more female applicants to our job postings so we can get more women in the workplace!